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Theater review by Helen Shaw
In a large apartment, somewhere in the city, strivers in their twenties are convening a book club. On the docket for the evening: a passionate quarrel about Anne Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Wait—what year is it? The program for Jack Thorne’s Sunday insists that it’s today, that it’s New York, that we’re looking at contemporary reality. But something feels off. First, a 22-year-old tells us that she’s already finished graduate school and spent 18 months in the workforce. Later, another young woman tells a stranger, who has been lightly stalking her, that she often leaves her apartment door unlocked. Roommates Marie (Sadie Scott) and Jill (Juliana Canfield) let men speak to them like it’s 1988; Keith (Christian Strange) and Milo (Zane Pais) yammer about toxic masculinity but never mention politics or work or the world outside. The logic keeps falling apart; the people don’t seem real. I mean, Anne Tyler? In this economy?
Sunday is listless and out of joint, full of redundant arguments and, when it wants to make points with crashing clarity, third-person narration. It creates a kind of miasma of anxiety, which—to wax charitable—might be Thorne’s way of making us feel the discontents of modern young adulthood. But there’s too little assurance for that: The bad pacing and dated conversations merely feel like the products of a play that hasn’t found itself. Director Lee Sunday Evans tries to inject some energy via choreography in the breaks in between scenes; the actors fling themselves into the dances, jerking like puppets. The more they do, the more tired they appear. It’s a play that’s pretending to be young but does not seem young at all. In other words, it’s a Monday.
Atlantic Theater Company (Off Broadway). By Jack Thorne. Directed by Lee Sunday Evans. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 45mins. No intermission.